RENO — Nancy Frank could no longer care for her two Chihuahuas so she was glad to find a young man she thought would give them a good home.
Days later the dogs’ remains turned up at gruesome site in a Reno motel room where detectives found a decapitated dog and four dog heads in a small refrigerator — two belonging to Frank’s pets, according to court records.
Jason Brown, 24, was arrested July 9 and charged with six felony counts of torturing or maiming and killing an animal in a case that has prompted public outrage.
Authorities were called to the Super 8 motel in a busy area across the street from a shopping mall in suburban south Reno after a maid reported she found a decapitated dog in the bathtub of the room Brown had been renting.
Officers found other dog parts, two bloody kitchen knives and the scissors of a Swiss Army knife. They also found two dog collars with rabies tags registered to Frank, along with the dogs’ dishes, blankets and tennis balls she had given Brown in hope they would help her make her pets happy, Washoe County sheriff’s Detective Joe Bowen wrote in a probable cause report.
On Wednesday, a half dozen animal protection activists with signs demonstrated outside Reno Justice Court, where Brown’s status hearing had been scheduled but was continued to a later date.
His lawyer, John Oakes, told the Reno Gazette-Journal last month that Brown has “mental health issues” and might need a psychiatric evaluation before he goes to trial. Neither Oakes nor prosecutors immediately returned telephone calls seeking comment on Wednesday.
Prosecutors say Brown killed five dogs at the Super 8 and a sixth at another location. He was being held at the county jail on a $70,000 cash bond and faces more than 20 years in prison if convicted on all counts. Brown, a former Reno High School student, also faces two counts of possession of a controlled substance, methamphetamine.
Melissa Lubeck of Nevada Voters for Animals was among the protesters who turned out in front of the courthouse Wednesday in hopes of making sure he doesn’t get out of jail anytime soon.
“We want to make sure justice is served,” Lubeck said. “We don’t want him to get any plea deal.”
Court documents show that during Brown’s interrogation on July 9, he acknowledged he bought a dog from Frank and that he was living alone in the motel.
Brown initially stated he entered the room two days earlier to find his gray dog dead in the bathroom, the sheriff’s report said. He said the dog looked like it had been cut up, and he suspected a girl named “Debbie” did it. He later changed his story, documents said.